LITTLETON — Vista Peak Prep and Dakota Ridge boys basketball teams didn’t waste any time in getting rolling into the New Year.

The Bison — No. 7 in the CHSAA Class 5A Selection & Seeding Index before action Wednesday night — won a high-scoring affair 88-77 at Dakota Ridge. Vista Peak had two weeks to think about its double-digit road loss to Lewis-Palmer back on Dec. 19 heading into the first game after Winter Break.

“It was a good game coming out of break,” Vista Peak senior James Brown III said. “(Dakota Ridge) and us both hadn’t played in a while. We both had a lot to think about. We knew (Ethan Berninger) was going to come out and do his thing.”

While Dakota Ridge junior Ethan Berninger was sensational with a game-high 37 points, Vista Peak (8-2 record) had five players in double-digit points to hold off the Eagles (4-4).

Photo by Dennis Pleuss/Jeffco Public Schools

Seniors Alante Monroe-Elazier (16 points), Kyree Polk (15 points), Julian Carrizales (14 points), Javon Lowman (12 points) and Brown (16 points) all finished in double-digits as the Bison scored 20-plus points in every quarter.

“We are disciplined to play our game,” Brown said facing the Eagles who were on a 3-game winning streak. “Play defense and play together no matter what the case is.”

Brown had a solid game on both ends of the court coming off the bench for the Bison.

“If I come off the bench or start I feel like I have something to give for this team,” Brown said. “The dog that I am, I’m going to go out there and play my best every day.”

Dakota Ridge made a desperate comeback attempt in the final quarter after trailing by 15 points heading into the fourth. Berninger poured in 17 points in the final 8 minutes to cut the lead down to six points on a few occasions, but Vista Peak held on with some clutch free-throw shooting in the final minutes to seal the win.

“It was a great test. They are a great team,” Dakota Ridge coach Sean Kovar said of Vista Peak. “I told my guys we don’t want it any other way. We want to play the best teams in the state and compete.”

Dakota Ridge was shooting lights out early in the first quarter, but a handful of turnovers allowed Vista Peak to take the lead early and never trail after a 7-0 run midway through the first quarter.

“Credit to their quickness and length,” Kovar said of the turnover issues the Eagles had in the first half. “It is something we are trying to work at, being strong with the ball. I felt like we really lacked on fundamentals tonight.”

Senior Nathan Bantock had a hot hand at times for the Eagles. Bantock scored 18 points, including four 3-pointers. Junior Andrew Schneider also had double-digits with 11 points in the loss.

Berninger showed why he is one of the most prolific scorers in the state with a handful of long 3-pointers and strong drives to the basket.

“He (Berninger) is special,” Kovar said of the senior who is averaging over 26 points per game after his season-high 37 points. “Sometimes you have to just let the reins off and let him go. There is also times when he is going to draw a lot of attention and he is going to get other guys open.”

Vista Peak is back home and on the court Friday with another good test against defending 4A state champions — Holy Family. Dakota Ridge opens Class 5A/4A Jeffco League play on the road Friday night against Alameda.

“All we are thinking about is having a great practice on Thursday and playing at Alameda on Friday for our first league game,” Kovar said of his team that went 10-0 in conference play last season. “We are super excited to compete and see them bounce back after a tough loss.”